A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Son is a psychological thriller from Argentina, in Spanish with English subtitles. The movie is based on The Protective Wife, a novel by Guillermo Martinez. An impassioned artist and his biologist wife conceive a much-wanted baby boy. The wife's isolating, obsessive behavior during the pregnancy and after the baby is born, combined with her husband's intensifying suspicion, strains their relationship to the breaking point. Rather than physical violence or scares, most of the tension in the film comes from implications of danger, furtive stalking, the protagonist's mindset, and an unconventional ending. The violent or disturbing scenes include a brief struggle during which a woman falls, a man held at gunpoint, and the discovery of a body. A lengthy, noisy off-camera childbirth sequence, heard through a locked door, may be unsettling for some. The movie opens with an ardent sex scene; a nude couple is seen in the last stages of intercourse (with female breasts exposed). One curse, "f--k," is heard. There's some social drinking. A main character is a recovering alcoholic; another injects herself with an unidentified substance.
What's the story?
Argentinean Lorenzo Roy (Joaquin Furriel) and his Norwegian wife Sigrid (Heidi Tioni) are desperate to have a baby in THE SON. Overjoyed when Sigrid becomes pregnant, they eagerly anticipate their baby son's arrival. Both have pasts that make them uneasy. Lorenzo, a former alcoholic, has no relationship with his two daughters from a first marriage. Sigrid suffered a miscarriage and is hyper-vigilant about this pregnancy. After initial help from a doctor, she decides to forego further medical assistance, makes some peculiar decisions about her medication, and decides that the baby will be born at home. Lorenzo is puzzled by Sigrid's increasingly odd behavior. When she brings in a surly midwife from Norway, the two further isolate Lorenzo from the preparations. The actual birth further separates husband and wife. Things get worse as the months pass. Lorenzo is given little time with the baby. Basically, they've locked him out. He strongly protests, then confides in his closest friends, Julieta (Martina Gusman) and Renato (Luciano Caceres), who sympathize, but are concerned about his agitated mental state. When Sigrid involves the police, Lorenzo erupts with an astonishing claim. He believes Baby Henrik isn't his child. Events escalate in a tightly drawn battle of wills.
Is it any good?
This movie, with terrific performances and stellar direction, comes with an ending that will leave an audience either exhilarated or peeved, depending on their willingness to appreciate a sly puzzle. Director Sebastian Schindel keeps the tension high, the developing events mysterious, and rooting interest uncertain. Motives are always perplexing. Is Sigrid a caring mom or a villain? Is Lorenzo believable, paranoid, or a sufferer of Capgras Syndrome (a disorder in which a person holds a delusion that a loved one has been replaced by an imposter)? The Son is seen from Lorenzo's perspective or, in later significant moments, from the perspective of Julieta, his friend and lawyer, and it works. Schindel's decision to leave conversations between Sigrid and the midwife untranslated from Norwegian works well. It leaves the audience in the dark just as Lorenzo is. For fans of psychological thrillers where the stakes are high and the answers aren't easy, it's a very satisfying movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the scares and tension in The Son. Does the movie live up to its "thriller" classification? How much of the conflict results in actual violence? How much is based on psychological dread and audience apprehension? What do you think is the difference in the impact between graphic violence and more subtle terror?
Some viewers may find the ending of The Son to be puzzling and/or abrupt. Would you agree or disagree with them? How much did the production team choose to leave to the audience's imagination? What do you think Julieta saw? Is it intriguing to figure it out for yourself, or did you feel cheated?
What techniques did the filmmakers use to accelerate the tension and scares (i.e., music, lighting)?
How was Lorenzo's home used as a "character" in the film?
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